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The sense of anticipation rose as we climbed the pathway. We were moments away from the highlight of our trip. For the previous few days, we’d been building up to reaching The Lost City of Machu Picchu.
We’d already visited a number of Inca sites, Saqsaywaman, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo, each impressive in their own right. The previous night’s rain had threatened to spoil the grand finale but fortune was smiling on us. I was still musing over these thoughts as we crested the hill and then, there below me lay Machu Picchu.
Reaching Machu Picchu
Totally captivated I gazed at the vision before me. I’d held this classic image of Machu Picchu in my head for a long time and now here I was, seeing it in the flesh, pinching myself. We all stood there in awe, taking in the spectacle below us, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
To set the scene, from our vantage point we had a clear view of the ruined city, it’s buildings following the contours of the mountain, spilling down the terraced slopes. The dominating backdrop of Wayna Picchu (Young Peak) looms above in the background. All around, the site is surrounded by heavily forested mountains within which Machu Picchu snugly sits. Added to this stunning setting, above us drifting whisps of cloud contributed their own air of mystery to the atmosphere.
Tearing my gaze away, I followed the others as we set off to explore the city below us. Machu Picchu is a collection of plazas, temples and other sacred sites as well as residential and industrial areas. As I walked around the city I tried to imagine what it was like here during its heyday over 600 years ago, a thriving centre of religion, commerce and industry.
Views from the Sun Gate
Stepping into what were former residential homes I thought of the long-departed families who’d once lived and thrived here. After some time exploring the city, we left and walked up to the Sun Gate which is approximately one hour’s walk away. It’s from here that those who walk the Inca Trail get their first sight of the Lost City.
As we sat and looked down once again at the spectacular view of the Lost City from the Sun Gate, I pondered the mystery as to what had happened to the inhabitants and why the city was abandoned. I marvelled at how such an incredible site could have been lost to the outside world for so long.
The ‘Lost City’ may one day reveal it’s secrets but the mystery which surrounds it serves only to add to the allure and aura of Machu Picchu. For certain, it’s the crowning testament to the ingenuity of the Inca Civilization and I count myself as privileged to have seen it. – By Mark Wilson (Assistant Manager of Worlds Apart Travel), who travelled with Exodus to Peru
See our trips to The Lost City of Machu Picchu below and experience it for yourself.